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“Aviatrix” touches down

Saturday, 9th January, 2016

“The Aviatrix” Tracey Curtis-Taylor touched down in the city yesterday to refuel and allow her head of support, Ewald Gritsch, to look over her 1942 Boeing Stearman biplane. PICTURE: Darrin Manuel “The Aviatrix” Tracey Curtis-Taylor touched down in the city yesterday to refuel and allow her head of support, Ewald Gritsch, to look over her 1942 Boeing Stearman biplane. PICTURE: Darrin Manuel

By Darrin Manuel

English Pilot Tracey Curtis-Taylor’s biplane has taken her from the green fields of Hampshire to the dusty outback of the Silver City, and everywhere in between.

Having previously flown from Cape Town to the UK in the BBC documentary “The Aviatrix”, Tracey is currently making the trip from England to Sydney as a tribute to 1930s aviation pioneer, Amy Johnson.

Amy Johnson made history with her biplane in 1930 when she became the first woman to fly solo from the United Kingdom to Australia.

Eighty-five years later her groundbreaking flight provided the inspiration for Tracey to take to the skies again.

Tracey’s flight aims to recreate the challenges of the 1930s, with her 1942 Boeing Stearman featuring an open cockpit, stick-and-rudder flying, basic period instruments, and a short flight range.

“(Amy) basically crashed her way through to Australia, it was an astounding flight against incredible odds, and she was met with a rapturous reception when she arrived,” said Tracey. 

“It was the golden age of civil aviation, that inter-war era, and that’s the era I really love - to fly in the spirit of the early pioneers.

“Australia was the destination for flying back then, the most far-flung part of the Empire.

“And flying to Australia is still a great challenge today, especially in one of these. Modern planes are a completely different kettle of fish.”

Tracey departed from Farnborough on October 1 last year, and touched down in the city yesterday on her way through to Sydney.

She has already made 50 stops on a journey that has taken her through a variety of countries such as Jordan, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

She said Australia had been a fascinating location for flying, and took her back to the heady early days of aviation that she longs for.

“It’s been absolutely wonderful flying through the outback,” she said.

“You can land on dirt strips in the middle of nowhere, you can go down and buzz little towns, you land at remote settlements and people come out with jerrycans of petrol - it’s real old-fashioned flying.

“I’d like to be flying around Australia for the next few months, that’s what I’d really like to be doing.”

Tracey’s desire to stay Downunder will likely go unfulfilled however, as her next project will take her to the USA.

After arriving in Sydney her plane will be packed up and shipped to Seattle for a world flight later in 2016.

Those wishing to follow Tracey’s exploits can track her progress via her website birdinabiplane.com.

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